ISRAEL HAS BEEN PRODUCING A STRING OF GREAT ARCHITECTS IN THE PAST DECADES. NOW, ISRAEL’S CELEBRITY ARCHITECT KEDEM SHINAR MAKES HER MARK WITH THE CY HOUSE RESIDENCE OUTSIDE OF JERUSALEM.
By Andrew Wasserstein | Photography By Amit Geron
Growing up in a family of creative people, Kedem Shinar’s path to becoming one of Israel’s leading architects was nearly destiny. The Tel Aviv-born, Boston raised Israeli has worked across countries on a wide-range of projects including the iconic Sderot Train Station, a historic restoration of the Rothschild Family building in Tel-Aviv and an award-winning graduation project from her university in Japan.
With an impressive resume for such a young age, Shinar, still in her thirties, is branching out as an independent architect and taking the Israeli and international scene by storm. Shinar’s first privately commissioned residence, the CY House, is a modern villa in the Jerusalem hills community of Carmey Yosef, and a testament to the architect’s international palette and design aesthetic.
Having a design-intuitive mother and renowned architect Ami Shinar as her father, Kedem Shinar grew up immersed in a creative realm from a young age, and was put to work helping build her father’s toy-sized architectural models, coloring in his blueprints and connecting with her parents through art.
“I had the privilege of being raised with parents who were very talented in completely different ways,” says Shinar. “As an immigrant to Israel, my mother instilled within me a very European mentality and education on art history and composition while my father taught me the rigor, work ethic and precision of architecture.”
After finishing her military service in the IDF, Shinar moved to Paris for two years to study art at the École des Beaux Arts before returning to Israel to pursue her degree at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. She completed her architectural degree in the Musashino Art University in Tokyo, where she, as the sole Westerner in the campus, went on to graduate as valedictorian of her class. She was also nominated among the top 5 successful students in an all-Japanese architecture school competition.
Shinar remained in Japan for a number of years training with Japanese architects Toyo Ito and Kengo Kuma before relocating back to Tel Aviv. In Israel, she worked at Skorka Architects helping to restore one of the city’s historic eclectic buildings on Rothschild Boulevard back to their former glory.
Teaming up with her father’s company Mann-Shinar, the father-daughter duo and their team designed the new Sderot train station, a massive design challenge and achievement to build the world’s only bomb-sheltered train station, containing thick concrete walls slanted at different angles and custom-made concrete triangular cladding. The station incorporates both beauty and safety in the Israeli city most under threat of rocket attacks.
Following in the footsteps of her mentors, Shinar now runs her own design firm, pushing forth her unique design mantra as she knows best. Her work fuses the Bauhaus and Mediterranean style of her native Israel with De Stijl inspiration and the Japanese modernism she basked in during her years in Tokyo.
“You can’t just copy and paste styles,” explains Shinar. “You have to add your own interpretation to the different design styles you love and marry them together in a unique and personal way with the local geography, history and climate of each architectural project.”
Her latest project, unveiled in February, is a homage to these design movements and principles with the completion of the CY House. The home is a modern masterpiece merging Japanese aesthetic and Bauhaus design elements with Eames-inspired interiors, an exquisite aluminum-cladded roof and wrap-around windows that bathe the house in natural sunlight. CY House merges seamlessly with the Israeli landscape of pines, cypress and olive trees, due to a Japanese-inspired harmonious flow between the internal and external spaces of the structure creating a continuity of the inside with nature. The house includes materials such as wood and aluminum and stucco; the latter purposely left exposed to create the contrast between the natural and industrial. Every space and every element has a purpose, which is typical to the functional architecture of the Bauhaus movement.
The historic plot of land the house rests upon was originally gifted to Russian-Israeli activist Ida Nudel and features a meticulously curated Mediterranean style garden featuring each and every plant mentioned in the Bible, more than 300 in total. Shinar has redesigned and maintained Nudel’s original vision, incorporating an English-style layout to make the impressive greenery and florals blossom to compliment the already stunning property which was finished in three years from concept to completion.
“CY House is a perfect testament to my infatuation with Israel: its stunning landscapes, geographical location and the multi-cultural influences that have inspired me over the years as an architect and designer. From Bauhaus theories and elements, Japanese minimalism and a focus on clean and calming materials to the natural sunlight commonplace in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries,” said Shinar, “there is no limit to the designs and caliber of work I can deliver for each project, incorporating my unique outlook on architecture and aesthetics with the needs and demands of each and every client, whether in Israel or abroad.”